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Keeping the Book

Keeping the book at a basketball game means marking down each point scored so the guy running the clock and the scoreboard isn't entirely on his own. It also means keeping track of who's scored each point for each team, how many fouls each player and each team have accumulated (so the officials will know when to toss a player from the game and award foul shots, and then more foul shots), keeping track of how many timeouts each coach has called, and keeping track of which team gets possession after each jump ball so the other team can get possession after the next jump ball.

In short, keeping the book is a terrific way to miss the game.

So I always try to be deep in meaningful conversation when the coach of the team my daughter plays for looks balefully into the stands before a game and asks for a volunteer to keep the book. But last weekend he caught my eye, and I was it.

Keeping the book for this particular group is complicated by the composition of the sixteen member team. At a given point, the coach may put out a line-up of Christi, Kristen, Krista, Christine, and Kerri, with Kiki, Kath, and Kelly kneeling by the scorer's table, waiting to come in.

There is no confusion with the fouls, which the officials always indicate by number, as in, "23, blue, in the act of shooting, two shots."

The problem comes when the coach turns to the guy keeping the book, who, on Sunday, was me, and asks "how many on Christi?" Unless what he's really asked is "how many on Kristen?" Or "how many on Krista?" Or "how many on Kristine?"

The other problem comes when one of the eight previously named players — Christi, Kristen, Krista, Kristine, Kerri, Kiki, Kath, or Kelly --- scores while I'm still looking at the book, trying to figure for out whether the coach has asked about Christi, Kristin, or Krista, and whether any or all of them are in foul trouble.

"Who got that last one?" I ask the guy next to me...the guy running the clock and the scoreboard.

"Kristi," he replies, unless he's said Kristen or Krista, or Kristine...or even Kerri.

Though I'm pretty sure the final score's right in the book, Kerri or Kelly may have been shorted a point or two in favor of Christi or Kiki. Krista fouled out...unless it was Kristin. I'm not sure which one had five. It may have been Kristine.

I am sure that the next time the coach looks balefully into the bleachers for a volunteer to keep the book, he's going to have to find Kerri's dad, or maybe Krista's, or Kristin's or Kristine's, 'cause I'm gonna want to watch the game.

This program aired on January 17, 2004. The audio for this program is not available.

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